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Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds

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Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad. A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to g Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad. A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems… for a price. Stephen’s brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects. This fall, Tor Books will publish Brandon Sanderson’s Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. The collection will include the science fiction novellas Legion and Legion: Skin Deep, published together for the first time, as well as a brand new Stephen Leeds novella, Lies of the Beholder. This never-been-published novella will complete the series.


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Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad. A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to g Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad. A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems… for a price. Stephen’s brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects. This fall, Tor Books will publish Brandon Sanderson’s Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. The collection will include the science fiction novellas Legion and Legion: Skin Deep, published together for the first time, as well as a brand new Stephen Leeds novella, Lies of the Beholder. This never-been-published novella will complete the series.

30 review for Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    I was SO excited to see a wrap-up to this trilogy of SF novellas by Brandon Sanderson! Review first posted on Fantasy Literature: Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is set of three interlocking science fiction/mystery novellas, with the detective role played by schizophrenic genius Stephen Leeds and his legion of hallucinatory alter egos or “aspects,” as he prefers to refer to them. The first two previously published novellas, “Legion” and “Legion: Skin Deep,” are now published together for I was SO excited to see a wrap-up to this trilogy of SF novellas by Brandon Sanderson! Review first posted on Fantasy Literature: Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is set of three interlocking science fiction/mystery novellas, with the detective role played by schizophrenic genius Stephen Leeds and his legion of hallucinatory alter egos or “aspects,” as he prefers to refer to them. The first two previously published novellas, “Legion” and “Legion: Skin Deep,” are now published together for the first time, along with a new third novella, "Lies of the Beholder," that wraps up the series and answers some questions that have been loose threads since Legion. (What happened to Stephen’s mentor and lost love Sandra? Why did she disappear from his life? And why do some of Stephen’s aspects periodically vanish?) In the preface to this set, Sanderson comments:Psychology-as-superpower is a recurring theme in my works. I’ve always believed that the personality traits that make us each distinctive (the way we process information, the way we motivate ourselves, the way we shelter our psyche from the bad while learning to cherish the good) can be either our greatest strengths or our most dramatic limitations… The premise was simple: What if a man’s hallucinations proved beneficial to him in his life, rather than the typical distraction?It’s such a unique concept, and Brandon Sanderson has a lot of fun with it. Stephen Leeds has given form and shape to the voices in his head, giving them each a unique personality and field of expertise (based upon Stephen’s own readings). And once Stephen passes off his knowledge about, say, computers to a particular aspect, that knowledge is completely unavailable to him, “forgotten” by Stephen unless the aspect tells him about it in an imagined discussion. Stephen has been so successful solving crimes and other complex problems using his invisible army of experts that he’s been able to buy a mansion large enough to house himself and his cohort of some forty-plus aspects (who each require their own room) and distance himself from an overly-curious world. Now he accepts only those cases that he finds particularly interesting. The mystery in “Legion,” the first novella, involves an international search for a stolen camera that can take pictures of people and events at any time in the past. It’s a device that’s been used several times before in science fiction; most notably, T. L. Sherred’s 1947 novelette “E for Effort” (collected in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 2B), Isaac Asimov’s 1956 short story “The Dead Past,” and Orson Scott Card’s 1996 novel Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. Legion doesn’t really add anything new from a science fiction point of view. Sanderson’s story points out some of the problems with the theory of time travel (branching paths of reality; Earth not being in the same place in space as it was in the past you are traveling to, or taking pictures of), but it doesn’t ever try answer those questions. Sanderson’s primary focus, and the real attraction of these novellas, is the unique psychology of Stephen Leeds, and the hilarious and colorful cast of hallucinated aspects surrounding him: J.C., the paranoid, trigger-happy ex-Navy SEAL and weapons expert; Armando, the trick photography expert who is convinced he’s the rightful emperor of Mexico; Tobias the schizophrenic historian and philosopher; Kalyani the linguist; and so on. Stephen’s aspects all are brilliant in different fields, all have their own differing mental illnesses, and all are utterly real to him, even though at the same time he is logically aware that they’re imaginary. It’s odd because they’re so completely real to him, but at the same time he *knows* they’re not real. And his hallucinations (for the most part) also understand that they’re not real, but so much of Steven’s life and his tenuous hold on sanity depend on him, and them, acting like they are real. It’s fascinating, and sometimes it gets really meta, which I love (it’s great brain exercise). Monica, who hires Stephen to solve the case of the missing camera, points out to Stephen:You create these delusions so that you can foist things off on them. Your brilliance, which you find a burden. Your responsibility — they have to drag you along and make you help people. This lets you pretend, Mister Leeds. Pretend you are normal. But that’s the real delusion.But real or not, Stephen’s legion of invisible experts are a lot of fun to read about. I’m especially fond of J.C., the politically incorrect ex-Navy SEAL aspect whose smart-mouth comments are the source of most of the humor in the Legion stories. “Skin Deep,” the second novella, gives J.C. another chance to shine, as Stephen and his aspects (he’s up to 47 now, though only a handful play a significant role in these stories) search for a missing corpse whose cells contain an invaluable scientific breakthrough.“Not zombies,” I said, feeling cold. “Cancer. You created a virus that gives people cancer.” “It was an unintended result that is perfectly manageable,” Laramie said, “and only dangerous if used malignly. And why would anyone want to do that?” We all stared at him for a moment. “Let’s shoot him,” J.C. said. “Thank heavens,” Tobias replied. “You haven’t suggested we shoot someone in over an hour, J.C. I was beginning to think something was wrong.” “No, listen,” J.C. said. “We can shoot Pinhead McWedgy over there, and it will teach everyone in this room an important life lesson. One about not being a stupid mad scientist.”The mystery of “Skin Deep” concerns a dead man who was a pioneer in biotechnology, and developed a method for storing massive amounts of information in the cells of the human body. He’s believed to have stored some ground-breaking scientific information in his own body before he died. His corpse has now gone missing, and competing parties are in a potentially deadly race to find it. Stephen, despite his intentions otherwise, gets roped into investigating the case. The mystery in “Skin Deep” is much more satisfying than the one in “Legion.” Still, I thought “Skin Deep” would have benefited from more depth and detail; I’m not sure the novella length was the best choice. The real pleasure in this novella is, once again, reading about Steve and his hallucinatory alter egos. Sanderson handles it all with a deft, humorous hand. I was also hoping for more answers in “Skin Deep” about the mysterious Sandra, a psychologist who disappeared from Steve’s life a decade ago and whom he desperately wanted to find again. In the first two novellas Sandra kept being dangled in front of us like a particularly annoying worm, but nothing ever really happened with that particular plotline. Sanderson finally tackles the Sandra problem head-on in his final Legion novella, “Lies of the Beholder.” As “Lies of the Beholder” begins, Stephen Leeds is giving a private interview to Jenny Zhang, a reporter who begins displaying far more insight into Stephen’s mental state and thought processes than he’s comfortable with. This uncomfortable interview is interrupted by a text from the long-missing Sandra that says, simply, HELP. Stephen is desperate to find Sandra, but her trail is elusive … and some of Stephen’s aspects are becoming alarmingly unreliable. “Legion” and “Skin Deep” are both fun, fairly light reads with some intriguing psychological aspects. “Lies of the Beholder” is significantly different in tone. Without getting into spoiler territory, I admire Sanderson’s decision to take the final Legion story in a different, darker direction, but the final story felt like it needed more fine-tuning. The concept and basic plot of “Lies of the Beholder” is a strong one and had several truly surprising ― even shocking ― moments. However, there are some significant plot holes here, and I didn’t think the various elements tied together in a way that was sufficiently logical within the framework of this universe. As a result, I was left feeling vaguely dissatisfied with the resolution of Stephen’s story. That dissatisfaction was underscored by a final wrap-up that suggested a far too simple answer to the problem of Stephen’s schizophrenia. I’m still enthusiastic about Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds as a whole. Stephen and his aspects are both original and appealing, and their interactions never cease to captivate and amuse me. The new hardback edition of these collected stories has an appealing, clever cover image of a fractured Stephen, and the evolving images at the beginning of each chapter are even more fascinating, not to mention thematically appropriate. It begins as a Rorschach test type of inkblot image, then I thought it was turning into a brain scan. But gradually it becomes clear that the artist has created something far more significant ― particularly as the image starts to devolve later in the book. Kudos to both artists! Initial post: The hardback ARC of this book just appeared on my doorstep today!! *happy dances around the house* *throws confetti in air* *forgives our puppy for chewing up my new shirt and my computer mouse this morning*

  2. 4 out of 5

    TS Chan

    'Voices in My Head: Part Three' has just been published and it made me round up my rating, as I am pretty certain I will when I reread the third story. 4.5 stars. Legion carries the Sanderson trademark through and through, with concepts which are fantastical and far out, but the storytelling is always centred around the characters and humanistic themes. All the things that matter in life are the things you can’t measure… This omnibus collects the first two novellas, Legion and Skin Deep, both 'Voices in My Head: Part Three' has just been published and it made me round up my rating, as I am pretty certain I will when I reread the third story. 4.5 stars. Legion carries the Sanderson trademark through and through, with concepts which are fantastical and far out, but the storytelling is always centred around the characters and humanistic themes. All the things that matter in life are the things you can’t measure… This omnibus collects the first two novellas, Legion and Skin Deep, both previously released as individual volumes, and the final new instalment, Lies of the Beholder, which provides closure to Stephen Leed’s story. Each story pretty much stands on its own but together forms a cohesive and continuous narrative with important elements carried forward from one to the next. The blurb for Legion is quite well-known already and most of you who have an interest in the book would probably know its basic premise. Stephen Leeds is a genius with an unparalleled aptitude to learn at an astonishing rate. However, his mind needs to conjure up hallucinations to contain the knowledge and manifest the expertise that he himself is unable to utilise directly. These hallucinations, whom he terms as ‘aspects’, have their own distinct personalities, and even their own lives. With its psychological angle, the story is necessarily written in the first-person perspective of Stephen Leeds to place the readers right into his head and mind. And what a mind he has, to keep up with around four dozen aspects - each with a certain idiosyncrasy and quirk which could very well be a personification of one or more of his personality traits, but scattered across many imaginary human beings. The aspects have all the character. I try hard not to stand out. Because I am not crazy. One thing from the usual Sanderson narrative that is absent here is worldbuilding. The tale takes place on good old earth, and mainly in the United States of America. The plots are centred around a mystery or puzzle that Leeds and his imaginary crew of experts have been tasked to solve. But the primary objective of the story is the characterization of Leeds and his aspects. While Leeds has a busload of aspects that can assist him with various specialised tasks, the ones we see the most are those he is most reliant on to keep him sane and safe - J.C., Ivy and Tobias. These aspects are characters who feel utterly real, both in their personalities and the manner in which they interact with each other in Leed’s imagination. I didn’t miss the typical worldbuilding of Sanderson’s books here because he made up for its absence in the pacing (these are short books as far as he is concerned) and fascinating characterization. Before I proceed to talk about the ending, I need to point out that I am quite an obsessive Sanderson fan. I follow Sanderson on possibly every social media platform (Reddit, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter), I’ve read all his blog posts, watched/listened to most of his taped appearances on YouTube, and even participated in his recent Google Hangout Session for the Read for Pixels Campaign. I am also a regular visitor of the 17th Shard and the ‘Words of Brandon’ Arcanum. With the knowledge about Sanderson that I’ve gathered over the years through these means, the poignant and bittersweet ending of Leed’s story resonated most keenly as being a personal matter for the author. A more casual reader of Sanderson’s books might not be as taken in by the conclusion. I reacted with a gasp and a lump in my throat when I realised what Sanderson was attempting to portray in this tale as I read the last few paragraphs, or at least what I thought he was trying to do. That he has also been releasing a three-part series of essays on his blog called 'Voices in My Head', in conjunction with the release of this book, alludes to where this story of Stephen Leeds comes from. (At the time of writing this review, the third part of ‘Voices in My Head’ which will talk about the Legion stories specifically has yet to be published) One more thing I need to mention is the ingenious use of the inkblot images at the beginning of each chapter – those which are used by the Rorschach test to perform psychological evaluations of its test subjects. This inkblot image begins as a couple of dots and gradually spreads into a bigger one with each chapter as the story progresses. After a certain point, I can already make out what I am seeing. And then something else starts happening to that image. Ahhh - simply brilliant, especially considering that the ‘magic' in this book is based on psychological powers. While the story of Legion does not have the epic worldbuilding and magic systems that Sanderson is so well-known for in his fantasy series, it nonetheless carries his trademark storytelling ability. The moment I started reading the new story, Lies of the Beholder, I simply could not put it down until the end. Even though I will always admit to a personal bias for anything Sanderson produces, this is a clever and engaging piece of writing that explores human psychology and personalities. This review can also be found at Booknest

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    This book was a compilation volume containing all three of Sanderson's Stephen Leeds novellas. I'll mainly focus on giving my thoughts on the newly released third novella, Lies of the Beholder, as I've already shared my thoughts on the other two in previous reviews. I did reread both Legion and Skin Deep before starting Lies of the Beholder and enjoyed them both. I liked Legion just as much the second (or third) time around. It is a fantastic introduction into the crazy world of Stephen Leeds! W This book was a compilation volume containing all three of Sanderson's Stephen Leeds novellas. I'll mainly focus on giving my thoughts on the newly released third novella, Lies of the Beholder, as I've already shared my thoughts on the other two in previous reviews. I did reread both Legion and Skin Deep before starting Lies of the Beholder and enjoyed them both. I liked Legion just as much the second (or third) time around. It is a fantastic introduction into the crazy world of Stephen Leeds! While I did enjoy my reread of Skin Deep I felt it showed a few more flaws the second time around. I like JC, he can be hilarious, but the fact that he is such a gun nut is a little annoying. His character feels a bit like the personification of Sanderson glorifying guns which seems a bad social message at a time when mass shootings are common place! The other thing that annoyed me was how judgemental Stephen was of his date early in the book. Judgemental characters who feel like they are better than others always piss me off so it was disappointing to see it here. Outside of those moments I did still enjoy Skin Deep and felt it had a good mix of humor and an intriguing mystery. The first two Stephen Leeds novellas had a light and fun tone but Lies of the Beholder felt like a change in direction for the series. It still had a bit of the humor and mystery we expect from the series but had a lot more serious tone and dealt with a few more weighty emotional issues. In terms of story we still got a bit of mystery as, out of the blue, Stephen gets contacted by his old flame Sandra in the form of a cryptic text message. It sets him off on the hunt to find and rescue her! I found it an engaging enough tale and actually loved where he did track her down to. I was also happy with the way Sanderson dealt with the Stephen/Sandra relationship. It was built up in the first two books but I'd always been a little uncomfortable by the way Stephen was always trying to track down a woman who clearly left him of her own volition and cut contact. Seemed a bit stalkery to me! Luckily Sanderson got things right in this one so I enjoyed the pairs interactions. The main focus of this third novella was actually Stephen's deteriorating mental state. He seemed quite in control of his hallucinations in the first two books but that was not the case here as we saw him struggle to separate what was real and what was imagined and witness the fact that he had become ever more reclusive and anti-social since we last seen him in Skin Deep. It gave the story a darker tone as Stephen struggled with mental health issues. Sanderson also went heavy on the theme of grief and loss as Stephen had to deal with it in a bunch of different ways of the course of the novella. Lies of the Beholder was definitely an engaging read but it also turned out be be a darker and more melancholy tale than its predecessors. I'm not sure I was entirely satisfied by the ending we got here but I guess it was passable. I just wish it was not a series finale as Sanderson has created a fantastic world in this series and I feel it had tons of potentially fun tales still to tell! All in all I rate the Stephen Leeds novellas as one of the better novella series I've read over the years. Yeah, even considering the flaws I've just spent the whole review moaning about lol! Rating: 4.5 stars Audio Note: Oliver Wyman is a top narrator who did a fantastic job with all three novellas. He gets the tone of the story and was spot on dealing with the humor and with the more emotional moments. He aced the character voices as well!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robin (Bridge Four)

    3.5 It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye Stars This is the final novella to complete out the story of a brilliant man who is just a little bit crazy, or at least his hallucinations are. We first met Steven Leeds on the worst blind date ever. It is a little disconcerting to find out the man you are on a date with sees and talks to people who aren’t really there. Over the course of a few books we’ve gotten to know many of the hallucinations that he has created to compartmentalize all of the stuff in his head 3.5 It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye Stars This is the final novella to complete out the story of a brilliant man who is just a little bit crazy, or at least his hallucinations are. We first met Steven Leeds on the worst blind date ever. It is a little disconcerting to find out the man you are on a date with sees and talks to people who aren’t really there. Over the course of a few books we’ve gotten to know many of the hallucinations that he has created to compartmentalize all of the stuff in his head, including most of his psychological problems. Each hallucination has one from paranoia, germaphobia, schizophrenia and many many more. Lies of the Beholder examines what happens when the controls that Steven has set up in his mind to deal with his problems starts to break down. What happens when he can’t control the hallucinations anymore and they take on a mind of there own so to speak. It got a little dark in there. The mind is a beautiful and sometimes dark place when fear leaches in and starts breaking things apart. Steven is having a difficult time in this. His life has some changes happening in it as the butler he has relied on for years has decided to retire. The Butler’s granddaughter is training to replace him since Steven has some very specific needs from the people who work for him since he treats all the hallucinations like real people. In the conclusion to this series we find out what happened to the ever-elusive Sandra and why she left and disappeared in the first place. It is a good conclusion and I could see how some parts of this might mirror a little of Sanderson’s personal life especially with where he took the conclusion. It wasn’t my favorite of the series, most likely due to the darker tone to the book and less humor throughout. There is a pattern of loss in this conclusion to the series and I liked where Steven ended up, but I can’t say the same thing about the endings for the Hallucinations. See even I’m treating them like real people. Audio Note: Oliver Wyman is the perfect narrator for this series. Sanderson has picked a lot of great narrators for all of his books and this series is no different. He did a great job at conveying the emotions of Steven and playing all the other characters too.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Mr. Sanderson’ writing is great when it comes to fantasy, especially to his Stormlight Archive series. However, he should stay away from science fiction, as this is not a genre for everyone to write. The science part is missing completely from this novella, there is no worldbuilding; this is just a work of fiction with lots of gaps between events, with a preposterous plot and an unconvincing and unrealistic main character – he has 46 alter-egos which act as hallucinations, not personalities (as Mr. Sanderson’ writing is great when it comes to fantasy, especially to his Stormlight Archive series. However, he should stay away from science fiction, as this is not a genre for everyone to write. The science part is missing completely from this novella, there is no worldbuilding; this is just a work of fiction with lots of gaps between events, with a preposterous plot and an unconvincing and unrealistic main character – he has 46 alter-egos which act as hallucinations, not personalities (as he told us), but from which we met just a few - thank God for small mercies. I said to myself that I won’t read another sci-fi work by him, after the fiasco with Firstborn , but I thought to give it another chance. Turned out to be an even bigger disappointment. He really should stick to fantasy, which he’s brilliant at, and forget about writing science fiction. >>> This review is solely for “Legion”, the first novella in this collection of three. I’ve got this excerpt thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge via NetGalley <<<

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karishma

    This was my first Sanderson and will definitely not be my last. This was a near perfect series for me in terms of characters, plot and pacing till the last chapter which flickered out towards a crushing disappointing and an ending which seemed just wrong. I would highly recommend this series - it's great, short and complete - if you are into audiobooks it's great in that format as well. Just imagine something else for the ending of the series, that's what I plan to do!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

    What’s great about Legion is that there is more than one interpretation to be taken: a metaphor for writers and their process, a personal look at Sanderson’s process/mind, a look at mental illness, or just a really interesting and fun story. Legion is a compilation of three novellas. When this compilation novel was first announced last year, I decided to hold off on read the novellas so I could just binge them all at once and I’m glad I did. Sanderson is doing his Sanderson thing here in creating What’s great about Legion is that there is more than one interpretation to be taken: a metaphor for writers and their process, a personal look at Sanderson’s process/mind, a look at mental illness, or just a really interesting and fun story. Legion is a compilation of three novellas. When this compilation novel was first announced last year, I decided to hold off on read the novellas so I could just binge them all at once and I’m glad I did. Sanderson is doing his Sanderson thing here in creating complex and compelling characters, even if most of them aren’t real. Legion doesn’t stand up to his other novels in terms of world building or crazy complex magic systems, instead Legion presents readers with fascinating science fiction plots and characters you won’t be able to get out of your head. The first two novellas are fun and light hearted despite the few lines of foreshadowing. Readers are brought on exciting adventures that have some of the coolest plots I’ve ever read. I wish the first novella were a full-length novel because it’s such an interesting concept that I’d love to see expanded upon. The final novella has a much darker and bleaker tone as Stephen deals with his deteriorating mental state. After the light hearted tones of the first two novellas, I thoroughly enjoyed the more serious bleaker tone of the final novella. Stephen’s introspection is the focal point of the novella, which makes his arc feel complete. I’ve read a few reviews that complain about the ending being rush or not what they expected/wanted, but I think this ending was inevitable though I think it depends on how you’re viewing the story as whole. Overall, Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is another work of Sanderson’s you can point to to showcase his incredible writing ability. With characters that jump off the pages and plots to rival some of the best science fiction writers, Legion with leave you clamouring for more. __________ Who would have guessed I’d rate his 5 stars? Though this isn’t huge in terms of Sanderson’s typical world building, it’s still amazing and worth the read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Blurring the lines between reality and imagination and between sanity and its opposite, Sanderson offers us three interlinked novellas, two of which were previously published. Stephen Leeds is a genius, but he is crawling along a tightrope perched precariously over a steep drop. In order to solve cases such as missing corpses, he calls upon his aspects or hallucinations, forty varied and extraordinary beings who no one can see but him. Although he sets chairs out for them. Offers them drinks. He Blurring the lines between reality and imagination and between sanity and its opposite, Sanderson offers us three interlinked novellas, two of which were previously published. Stephen Leeds is a genius, but he is crawling along a tightrope perched precariously over a steep drop. In order to solve cases such as missing corpses, he calls upon his aspects or hallucinations, forty varied and extraordinary beings who no one can see but him. Although he sets chairs out for them. Offers them drinks. Hears about their awkward social lives. It’s like schizophrenia on steroids and then some. Lots of voices. Like Alia Atriedes calling on her past genetic ancestors. Sort of. But, anytime Leeds needs help he can plug into their vast knowledge like Neo plugging into computer files in Matrix. It’s an exciting concept and the raw banter between Leeds and his aspects is the best part of these stories.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson *****5***** Legion is both a beautiful and haunting tale of the inner workings of one man's psychology and his search to understand it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bookwraiths

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is a collection of three companion novellas focused on schizophrenic genius Stephen Leeds, whose unbelievable detective skills have sprung forth from his legion of hallucinatory “aspects”. While the first two novellas have been previously published (I’m referring to “Legion” and “Legion: Skin Deep”.), this time out fans of the series can re-experience those old Leeds adventures before devouring the wrap-up novella, “Lies Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is a collection of three companion novellas focused on schizophrenic genius Stephen Leeds, whose unbelievable detective skills have sprung forth from his legion of hallucinatory “aspects”. While the first two novellas have been previously published (I’m referring to “Legion” and “Legion: Skin Deep”.), this time out fans of the series can re-experience those old Leeds adventures before devouring the wrap-up novella, “Lies of the Beholder,” which ties up more than a few dangling plot lines before ending the tale in satisfying fashion. But will it satisfy everyone? Probably not. But, like all Brandon Sanderson stories, Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is inventive, entertaining and does an amazing job bringing such a unique concept to life. As the title declares, Stephen Leeds lives a multi-faceted life. Basically, this is due to him having forty “aspects” or different personalities, if you will. Each one of these other individuals are hallucinations within his mind; distinct beings who have their own unique personalities and fields of expertise. Stephen hears them, talks to them, sees them, and even has different rooms in his home set up for each one to live in. Naturally, no one else sees any of these aspects though, which shrieks of a really bad case of untreated schizophrenia, but Stephen seems to have a handle on the whole thing, so no harm done, I guess. What is distinctly interesting about this whole aspect system is that Stephen unconsciously creates each of these beings. Each time he uses his genius abilities to master an area of knowledge he then brings into existence an aspect to embody that knowledge, store it, and then promptly forgets everything he has learned about it. So when our genius detective needs to recall something about a subject he has previously mastered out comes one (or more) of his aspects to act as an imaginary partner(s) whom Stephen has imagined discussions with, bickers with and swaps banter with. Needless to say, Stephen’s amazing abilities have allowed him to be super successful at solving crimes and complex problems by tapping into his imaginary army of gurus. This success has led to large amounts of money, which has resulted in Stephen building a mansion large enough for him and his aspects to all live together out of sight of ordinary people who might find Stephen’s habit of dining with invisible people disconcerting. This success has also allowed him to be very, very picky about what cases he accepts, resulting in Stephen only dealing with highly unusual situations. It all begins in “Legion,” the first novella, which is about the search for a stolen camera which allegedly can take pictures of people and events at any time in the past. Definitely a nice science fiction vibe in this story, and while Sanderson’s narrative doesn’t add anything new to the well mined time travel mythos, it was still a fun, fast read with some interesting psychological and philosophical questions. “Skin Deep” keeps the many aspects of Stephen coming at you with a mystery centering on a dead body which everyone is searching for. Supposedly, this dead guy was a pioneer in biotechnology who developed a super secret, super advanced method for storing massive amounts of information in the cells of the human body. Naturally, everyone believes the dead guy stored some of his most amazing, ground-breaking scientific discoveries in his own body before he died, so everyone is in a deadly race to find it. Finally, there is the new novella, “Skin Deep”, which is quite different in tone and feel from the others. Here Sanderson attempts to deal with many of the questions regarding Stephen, his aspects, and his previous relationship with a psychologist named Sandra. Overall, the answers provided are satisfying, include some shocking moments, and definitely give a possible theory, of sorts, to Stephen’s condition and his aspects, but there are definitely a few plot holes, some missteps with the established lore, and a conclusion which felt a bit too nice and tidy. What really stuck out to me, though, was the much darker, less light-hearted vibe of this story; a circumstance which left me feeling a bit jarred out of my nice comfort zone. Like many other readers, I have to say the most satisfying aspect of this collection is experiencing Stephen’s unique world filled with his imaginary alter egos. The constant banter, detailed discussions, and colorful personalities of all the different “aspects” keeping the detective stories filled with fun. But what makes Legion a more nuanced and addictive read is how Sanderson deftly adds many serious questions just under the surface though. Things like how and why Stephen creates and pretends that his different alter egos are real. These ongoing mysteries about Stephen and what is actually real in his world a nice brain puzzle for readers to enjoy in addition to the detective tale they are already reading. My only complaint about the collection would be “Lies of the Beholder” attempting to do too much, answer too many questions, and wrap up Stephen’s tale in too few pages. No Sanderson story ever is unfinished or unpolished, but this novella just felt like it was missing too many pieces, skipping too many steps, making too many changes in an effort to arrive at a preordained place in a single leap. It wasn’t bad as much as it was incomplete, in my opinion. Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds was an entertaining read any way you look at it. The concept of Stephen and his aspects is a unique, fun idea, which Brandon Sanderson capably handles. The mysteries Stephen finds himself embroiled in are entertaining and intriguing stories. And while I have issues with the third novella, it did not stumble to the point where I hold the book in less esteem, so I highly recommend this one to everyone out there. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Check out my blog, One Man Book Club The Value of a Star: Ratings Explained Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds, is a compilation of the three novellas about Brandon Sanderson's schizophrenic private investigator, Stephen Leeds. My opinion? The Legion stories are the most unique and creative applications of Brandon Sanderson's famous magic systems. I love these stories, they are a creative masterpiece, and I wish there were more. They would make an AMAZING TV series. The third and final story is Check out my blog, One Man Book Club The Value of a Star: Ratings Explained Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds, is a compilation of the three novellas about Brandon Sanderson's schizophrenic private investigator, Stephen Leeds. My opinion? The Legion stories are the most unique and creative applications of Brandon Sanderson's famous magic systems. I love these stories, they are a creative masterpiece, and I wish there were more. They would make an AMAZING TV series. The third and final story is the only new one. The first two have been published previously. My reviews of those are below, followed by some short thoughts on the 3rd part, Lies of the Beholder. Here we go. Book 1: Legion (Reviewed March 2013) Stephen might be the smartest person alive. He is fabulously wealthy because his brilliance is in high demand--he can solve crimes and mysteries better than anyone. Steve is also crazy . . . He doesn't like being smart, so he's invented "aspects," hallucinations that represent a different part of his brilliance. He converses with them and they help him solve mysteries--but of course he's the only one who can see them. It's like imaginary friends gone wild! He travels first class, but demands that he have 5 first class tickets. He orders his butler to bring drinks for him and all his "friends." His hallucinations even fall in love with each other . . . Seriously? Why hasn't this story been turned into the coolest mystery solving TV series yet? Book 2: Skin Deep (Reviewed November 2014) When is this going to be turned into a TV series? It'd be a hit! Stephen Leeds is a genius for hire. He leads a team of experts--currently 47 of them--in solving mysteries and puzzles. Stephen Leeds is also a conscious psychotic, somewhere between schizophrenic and something not yet defined. Conscious, because he is fully aware of what is real and what is not. Psychotic, because his team of 47 experts doesn't actually exist--at least not to anyone but Stephen. He calls them his "aspects;" they are manifestations of his own compartmentalized knowledge that are visible only to him. Oh man, get ready: this guy is completely fascinating...each aspect is it's own character, complete with personality, feelings, backstory, emotions, relationships, and motivations--all taking place in the mind of Stephen Leeds. They are different sexes and races. They have romantic relationships with each other, fight with each other, and get annoyed with each other. When they all get together to help Stephen solve a puzzle, the entertainment value is sky high, especially when others are there to witness it! Book 3: Lies of the Beholder This is the last Stephen Leeds story we're going to get, and I'm sad about that. It's just that good. But Brandon Sanderson wanted to put this one to bed and move on to other things, so he did, he did it brilliantly, and I can respect that. I love the creativity that is represented in these stories. It's a complex idea executed flawlessly, and that's part of why I'm so enamored by them. It ends with a fantastic twist and a wonderful tip-of-the-hat to every author who bravely sends their word-children into the world to be judged. Good bye Stephen Leeds. I hope to see you on the small screen one day. 14 and up. Happy Reading!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    NetGalley provided a Preview ARC for this book. This collection will be released in September and will include the science fiction novellas Legion and Legion: Skin Deep, published together for the first time, as well as a brand new Stephen Leeds novella, Lies of the Beholder. Another hit by the brilliant write Brandon Sanderson! Stephen Leeds, AKA 'Legion,' is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of persona NetGalley provided a Preview ARC for this book. This collection will be released in September and will include the science fiction novellas Legion and Legion: Skin Deep, published together for the first time, as well as a brand new Stephen Leeds novella, Lies of the Beholder. Another hit by the brilliant write Brandon Sanderson! Stephen Leeds, AKA 'Legion,' is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. Now imagine if you wish to understand human anatomy, he hallucinates a persona who happens to know everything about human anatomy. While that is absolutely brilliant it also must drive someone mad crazy. Stephen gets drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera that can alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society. This is a fantastic, brilliantly written and a quick read that I would recommend for everyone. Once again Brandon Sanderson shows whether he is writing a masterpiece like Stormlight Archive/Mistborn or a short story; he excels all expectations. 4.25 stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    I read an excerpt from what I gather is a fix up, or a compendium of three novellas. I have not quite connected with Sanderson's fantasy, though there is a lot I like, but this I really enjoyed. Briefly, Stephen Leeds has multiple personas, and the banter between them is what makes the story so much fun. Watching the mystery unfold while Leeds and other people in real life blip in and out of consensus reality with the personas (aspects, Leeds calls them, insisting he does not have multiple person I read an excerpt from what I gather is a fix up, or a compendium of three novellas. I have not quite connected with Sanderson's fantasy, though there is a lot I like, but this I really enjoyed. Briefly, Stephen Leeds has multiple personas, and the banter between them is what makes the story so much fun. Watching the mystery unfold while Leeds and other people in real life blip in and out of consensus reality with the personas (aspects, Leeds calls them, insisting he does not have multiple personality disorder) is what made the story so much fun. Sneak peek provided by NetGalley

  14. 4 out of 5

    Roy

    Novella 1-*** Novella 2-**** Novella 3-***.5 Overall 3.5*. This was very different to the normal Sanderson stories. It still had a cool concept. Dealing with issues of psychology or humans dealing with inner problems are normally something Sanderson writes about. Its his forte/niche. Here he just brings it to tje forefront. It felt like a weak scifi novel at times with some decent detective work on the side. I wouldnt say its his finest work, but it still was a good read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    I have read several of Brandon Sandersons books & short stories and the Legion ones are among my favorites. The concept peeked my interest and Sandersons fast-paced writing style pulled me in. I am looking forward to reading the new story in this series. Thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for the preview excerpt.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This book contains all three novella, which are available individually as well. Stephen Leeds thinks of himself as an ordinary, dull person. However, his many hallucinations are brilliant, quirky, and colorful. With the help of 50 hallucinations (aspects each with their expansive expertise), Leeds is a genius at solving cases. If it weren't for the aspects that no one sees, Leeds is a pretty sane person.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anton

    Full review to come as soon as i have a spare minute... But this an all-star fiction. This is my THE best favourite Sanderson’s book. I like better than Mistborn. Better than Emperor’s Soul. Better than anything else he wrote. Loved it from the first page and to the last. Pure reading pleasure 🤓

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth Geary

    Sad that Sanderson sees this as an ending to this series, I would have liked to see a full length dive into this character

  19. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Gutilla

    This collection is awesome. I really like how Sanderson turned schizophrenia into a superpower. I also really liked learning the “rules” that went along with the hallucinations, and the science behind everything. Another win for Sanderson.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Milou

    Today is the publication day of Sanderson’s new book, and I am so gratefull that I received a copy of it via Netgalley. This does not affect my review. This book consists of three novellas, two of which have already been published before. This book binds those two together, and includes the third and final story in the series. I will discuss all the stories separately in this review. Legion (#1) – I read this story before and it has always stuck with me. Even though it is so short, it manages to r Today is the publication day of Sanderson’s new book, and I am so gratefull that I received a copy of it via Netgalley. This does not affect my review. This book consists of three novellas, two of which have already been published before. This book binds those two together, and includes the third and final story in the series. I will discuss all the stories separately in this review. Legion (#1) – I read this story before and it has always stuck with me. Even though it is so short, it manages to raise several very interesting questions, as well as create a complex and well-developed main character (and side characters…). This story does feel like it is too short, but only in the sense that I want to see more of Stephen, his aspects and their banter (so jeey for this bind-up of all 3 stories). The storyline itself is actually a great length and gets wrapped up nicely – though with definite space for continuation. 4.5* Skin Deep (#2) – This story was a lot longer than the first one, and although still very enjoyable, it wasn’t nearly as good as the first. We are introduced to many new apsects and see them work together, which was awesome. The mystery however wasn’t done very well. Things considering solving it were moving along a bit too slow for my liking, with very few new clues introduced. The solving of the case actually happens between chapters, with a clue we were never aware of. There is also no progress made on the finding Sandra issue that was raised in the first story. Lastly, the questions asked and discussed in this story weren’t nearly as interesting as in the first story. 3.5* Lies of the Beholder (#3) – Sanderson is at it again! Somehow he managed to make me feel all the feels in the span of only 150 pages. Shit goes down in this book, and Sanderson is not afraid to kill of some beloved characters. This was a great conclusion to the series. Although I don’t agree with the issues discussed in here, it did make for an interesting setting. We see some new aspects and their talents, and further implications of Stephens ‘condition’ which was very interesting. Also, Sandra… 4.5* Overall this is a great series (as one may expect from Sanderson) with amazing characters and just briliant writing. The plot is not as intricate and overwhelming as some of his fantasy books, but still very interesting and entertaining. Highly recommend it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Atsu

    Disclaimer: I've received a preview excerpt of this book which only included the first novella Legion, the rating will probably change once I've read the whole book. My first non-Fantasy Sanderson, and it was... okay. Short and sweet, but not memorable. I like the idea and I love how endearing Stephen's personae are, it's something Sanderson always does very well: making us love characters after a few lines of dialogues. But I'm not entirely convinced, for someone with so many personalities surrou Disclaimer: I've received a preview excerpt of this book which only included the first novella Legion, the rating will probably change once I've read the whole book. My first non-Fantasy Sanderson, and it was... okay. Short and sweet, but not memorable. I like the idea and I love how endearing Stephen's personae are, it's something Sanderson always does very well: making us love characters after a few lines of dialogues. But I'm not entirely convinced, for someone with so many personalities surrounding him, Stephen feels a bit empty. Even the plot (a camera that can take pictures of the past) sounded so interesting, but fell flat at the end. I'm a little bit at a loss. I also have to insert my longest sigh at the introduction of el famosa Love Interest who hasn't been seen for 10 years and who was the only one who understood the Genius™ main character. But that's just me being bitter. Legion has a lot of potential and I'm very curious about the other two novellas, this review is on hold until I've read them. Thank you Brandon Sanderson, NetGalley and Tor for providing this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dragana

    Before reading the last part of the Legion series I decided to re-read the previous novellas. I think it was a good decision because it really tied up the story. I am sorry to say goodbye to Stephen and his aspects. Especially J.C. But everyone deserves their HEA, and for them I think this was it. Recommended if you like mentally unstable characters, humor and a good mystery.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Boostamonte Halvorsen

    No Spoilers, this was a good ending, to me. I imagine some people will be upset...but it worked and it makes sense. I can see now how this last installment was a really personal one for Sanderson. The story of Stephen Leeds is meant to be fun, and it is, and I think the ending will be the lynch pin to how people feel this series is. The Reckoners series ended really lame...and I think this might be on that level...but as a practicing author...I get this ending. It hit me in the "write" place. Wo No Spoilers, this was a good ending, to me. I imagine some people will be upset...but it worked and it makes sense. I can see now how this last installment was a really personal one for Sanderson. The story of Stephen Leeds is meant to be fun, and it is, and I think the ending will be the lynch pin to how people feel this series is. The Reckoners series ended really lame...and I think this might be on that level...but as a practicing author...I get this ending. It hit me in the "write" place. Worth reading. Sorry if you hate the ending.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    This is a pretty solid novella. I have a hard time really enjoying the shorter format of a novella as even a succinct story always seems to lack the quick punchy satisfaction of a short story while not providing the draw of a longer more extensive treatment of the characters and premise. Of the novellas I've read however, this is probably one of the best ones and in some ways overcomes those qualms. As I've come to expect from Sanderson, the premise is comprehendible but interesting with a lot o This is a pretty solid novella. I have a hard time really enjoying the shorter format of a novella as even a succinct story always seems to lack the quick punchy satisfaction of a short story while not providing the draw of a longer more extensive treatment of the characters and premise. Of the novellas I've read however, this is probably one of the best ones and in some ways overcomes those qualms. As I've come to expect from Sanderson, the premise is comprehendible but interesting with a lot of depth that allows the story to play off it in a way that hits that basic level of "awesome," while allowing for a colorful and fun narrative. Not surprising, my favorite thing about the book is the exploration of Stephen's different personalities both in their characterization and how Stephen is able to utilize them to solve problems. This feature is quite clearly Stephen's most defining psychological trait, which isn't surprising given how encompassing it is for him to have a host of different characters completely interactive in his perceivable world at all times. But beyond this, Stephen's personae also provide much of the story's cast in a paradoxical sense (given that none of these people are "real" in a sense). However, the vivid appearance and capacities of these personae and the depth of their personalities make them far more intriguing a concept than your run of the mill "inner voice" trope. To further expand on this, Stephen uses these personae essentially as a magical power that allows him to know and be capable of all kinds of things. In classic Sanderson fashion, it's an incredibly flexible power, but one with interesting constraints. This dynamic allows for much of the book to consist of just playing with and testing the limits of Stephen's abilities in a way that's rather engaging while still providing a springboard for exploring the brief plot of the story itself. Ultimately, my biggest complaint, not surprisingly, is that the story feels a bit short. I consider this a good problem to have as generally, even with many novellas I like, I'm okay putting it down once I'm finished. With this one, I was eagerly looking forward to the next installment, which is great since he’s since continued the series. Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the Preview Excerpt. The opinions herein are my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennavier

    While I wasn't overwhelmingly impressed by the ending, I enjoyed the story overall so much that I'll still give it 5 stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ornella (Nyx)

    What Nav's said.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Navdha

    I think we have all established that Brandon Sanderson's writing acumen makes his every story stand out. So it should come as no surprise that I love this book and would recommend it to anyone and everyone who likes to read. That being said, what makes these novellas stand out even more is his absolutely fantastic execution of such a complex idea that I feel like some authors have tried to tackle in the past but shied away from fully exploring. Our protagonist, Stephen Leeds is a genius but a qu I think we have all established that Brandon Sanderson's writing acumen makes his every story stand out. So it should come as no surprise that I love this book and would recommend it to anyone and everyone who likes to read. That being said, what makes these novellas stand out even more is his absolutely fantastic execution of such a complex idea that I feel like some authors have tried to tackle in the past but shied away from fully exploring. Our protagonist, Stephen Leeds is a genius but a quite eccentric individual (and I'm not talking Sheldon Cooper bizarre which should be telling). Our human brain can only comprehend reality (or what we consider reality) a certain way and expects and interprets normalcy very conservatively. Leeds' level of genius is so astounding to his own brain that he creates aspects/personalities of himself that he considers as repositories for the knowledge he collects by briefly skimming over news, articles, books, TV, any source of information you can think of. Imagine having a brain that can understand and retain an audiobook on say, cryptography at 5x speed. Imagine being able to excel at any skill by just dedicating a fraction of your day's time researching about it. Now imagine this level of brilliance while trying to stay sane. Mind-boggling, innit? And somehow Sanderson thought it was acceptable to tantalize us with this amazing concept in a novella. RUDE! Well, 3 novellas but I shall and will complain! . Add to this some more intriguing, futuristic-yet-believable tech trying to upheaval the world while Leeds uses his "skills" to save the world and you have an unforgettable, intense, captivating read. Even though there are many things I adore about this series, the psychology aspect is the most scintillating IMO. My favorite aspect of Sanderson's character development (in general) is his genuine love of exploring the intricacies of the human psyche. He just has this way of making each and every character resonate with some part of you; frankly, it's quite uncanny. In Leeds' case though, it's so fascinating to see just one character have so many distinct, strong personalities yet not really have one of his own. I don't think I'm able to articulate my thoughts well here but if you've read the books you might know what I mean. One can argue that Leeds personality is an amalgamation of all his aspects but the way his character is portrayed, it's easy to forget that. You see him as a middleman doing what his 47 aspects (yes, 47!!!!) tell him to do. In the first novella, he is so dependent on Ivy, Tobias and JC that you see him forget how to act normal if they're absent. And then as the novellas progress, you see him lose himself some more, go berserk and then finally, blessedly, accept his insanity and become his own person. It's truly a beautiful journey and I'm so very proud of Leeds after that ending. Seriously, just read it to find out for yourself. If after my nonsensical rambling, you're still not convinced that this book is worth your time, I don't know what to tell you. I'll send you cookies? And if you like it, you send me back better cookies? Fair trade, eh? Anyhoo, I'm so glad I reread the first two novellas because I'd forgotten pretty much everything. It was a delightful read and I will definitely be doing a reread in the future. Give this book all the bloody stars!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Thomas

    Stephen Leeds is another fascinating character from the fertile imagination of Brandon Sanderson. Instead of providing us with a massively complex and intriguing fantasy or science fiction setting that most of us are familiar with when reading a Sanderson story or series, this time he turns inward for his world building. This is a trilogy of three novellas, two of which have been published previously. I’m glad I waited until now so that I could read the complete set, one after the other because Stephen Leeds is another fascinating character from the fertile imagination of Brandon Sanderson. Instead of providing us with a massively complex and intriguing fantasy or science fiction setting that most of us are familiar with when reading a Sanderson story or series, this time he turns inward for his world building. This is a trilogy of three novellas, two of which have been published previously. I’m glad I waited until now so that I could read the complete set, one after the other because each one builds on the previous. The first story serves mostly to introduce the concept of Stephen Leeds and his “illusions”. Leeds is a genius and is capable of learning new subjects in a very short amount of time…but in order to make sense of so much knowledge and compartmentalize it, his mind creates illusions; basically characters that only he can see and interact with. He knows they are not real (and thus reassures himself that he isn’t insane). For example, when Leeds needs to learn Hebrew he conjures up an illusionary character that can act as a “translator” for him. Or if he needs the expertise of a Navy SEAL, then the wonderful illusionary character of JC is right there for him. The cool thing though is that these illusions are just like real characters for us readers and their interaction, banter, bickering, etc. makes them as real to us as they are for him…even though we know they’re not. All three novellas have their own plots in the form of cases to solve, but the second one starts to plant the seeds of a mental breakdown for Leeds while the third really pumps up the emotional impact of what might happen if that came to pass. In fact near the end, I was preparing myself to be seriously pissed off at Sanderson but the very end gave me the emotional payoff and fulfillment that I always count on with this author. Sanderson has written about how this third novella is more autobiographical than anything he has shared before and we can really see what it must be like to be a fiction author who is so heavily invested in his characters.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A typically over-the-top Sanderson premise: a man hallucinates, and knows that he hallucinates, other people who possess knowledge and skills that he does not have conscious access to. He's perfectly sane; but his "aspects" have all kinds of psychological problems. The author hints pretty clearly in his introduction that this is based on his own experience as an author - that his own characters help to keep him sane, by being safe carriers of his issues, as well as being able to do things that h A typically over-the-top Sanderson premise: a man hallucinates, and knows that he hallucinates, other people who possess knowledge and skills that he does not have conscious access to. He's perfectly sane; but his "aspects" have all kinds of psychological problems. The author hints pretty clearly in his introduction that this is based on his own experience as an author - that his own characters help to keep him sane, by being safe carriers of his issues, as well as being able to do things that he can't. He takes the idea in some fun, interesting, and ultimately thought-provoking directions. I've seen Sanderson dismissed as being merely the ultimate commercial writer, following the market's demands and expectations, but he's much more than that. Not only does he have wildly original ideas and develop them in ways that nobody else would think of, but there's a degree of emotional and psychological depth to his recent work in particular that isn't found in many authors. He hand-crafts his books, he doesn't stamp them out of a mould. While the first in these three connected novels shows the central character as a kind of superpowered detective, the following two increasingly follow his psychological struggles and internal, as well as external, challenges, and bring out philosophical questions while not neglecting action and conflict. The collection ends with a complex, but hopeful, conclusion. I'd already read the original novella, I think in a collection, and eagerly requested this version via Netgalley when I saw it there. Thanks to the publisher for granting my request; it's one of the best books I've read this year.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lex

    My friends says it's a bittersweet ending. But I'm just bitter 😂 I'm like 80% bitter about it and 20% happy for Stephen. Kinda. Okay, fine. Make it like 99% bitter 😂 I loved this because the topic was so awesome. My words can't even bring it to justice. Sanderson is really a great writer. I love the concept of this so much because human brain is so fascinating. The character development of this novellas are really superb. It's sad that these series are just novellas and not his full blown novel i My friends says it's a bittersweet ending. But I'm just bitter 😂 I'm like 80% bitter about it and 20% happy for Stephen. Kinda. Okay, fine. Make it like 99% bitter 😂 I loved this because the topic was so awesome. My words can't even bring it to justice. Sanderson is really a great writer. I love the concept of this so much because human brain is so fascinating. The character development of this novellas are really superb. It's sad that these series are just novellas and not his full blown novel in which I would definitely read. Take note, I HATE books greater than 300 pages. LMAO. But for Stephen Leeds, I don't care if it's 1000 pages. The ending is just right, IMO. BUT that does not mean I liked the ending! (view spoiler)[I WANT THE ASPECTS BACK!!!! (hide spoiler)] This was a mix of funny, scientific, informative and emotional story. Yes, all in one. There's action too! I want more of the aspects though. J.C!!!

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